In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Christ on a (Ben) Cross!

With all these religious horror movies coming out recently, it seems like a good time to pick out 1988's The Unholy from the pile and give it a go. This was another one that I have no explanation for never watching back in the day, as it was a video store mainstay. Let's chomp that wafer and get down to business.

Shortly after arriving at his new parish, Father Michael (Ben Cross) discovers that the last two priests who held his position were brutally murdered at his altar. Will he be next?

Yeah, this one isn't bad. I learned that this script was originally written in the seventies to capitalize on the success of The Exorcist and The Omen, but was then shelved. I can see that, as the characters and societal underbelly that Father Michael encounters does feel more of that decade.

Ben Cross - who would have made one of my faves Paperhouse around this time - is solid here and a good sport about having his junk covered in snakes. He's also surrounded by a bevy of character actors in this including Ned Beatty, Hal Holbrook, Peter (Profiler FTW!) Frechette and Will Russ. The score by Roger Bellon is terrific, even by eighties standards.

Ben Cross as Father Michael in The Unholy.

I found it amusing how nonchalantly the clergy talk about Church cover-ups in this movie when in hindsight, a few dead bodies and some indiscretions with the opposite sex were the least of their dirty laundry. Just another indication of how different things were some fourty years ago.

Can you keep a secret?

I do have to admit, The Unholy does get a bit bogged down with exposition and I found myself nodding off in the middle. However I perked up for the finale which is definitely worth the price of admission. The effects provided by Bob Keen, who worked on Clive Barker's films among others, fucking brings his A-game. Full creature suits, giant animatronics, exploding midgets, you name it!

In fact, I'd say that guy looks like the love child of The Brain and Syngenor. Oh, I didn't even mention the sexy negligee-d demon played by Nicole Fortier. Let's just say that ol' Father Michael was made of stronger rosary than I. 

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